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At BBQLA, curator Ken Taylor has made a cozy place for the viewer—fresh pink carpet on which to stand, and, on our way in, sweet treats made by his mom (Amanda Taylor, Winter Theme 2, 2016). But this intimate space wasn’t made for us; rather, it is a protective zone or habitat for the work itself, a shelter from us. Even Taylor’s cookies are covered in silver tinsel.
Francis Bacon notoriously placed his paintings under glass, as a barrier between the content and the viewer. Each work on view at BBQLA similarly guards itself aesthetically. Becky Kolsrud’s figure looks at us through a pink gate; the gestural paint of Alex Becerra’s still life is so chunky and thick that it acts as a skin of visual thorns. Brandon Landers puts glass on his paintings while wet—anxiously sealing them—while Kent O’Conner’s framed glass still life seems to preserve a meticulously composed crime scene.
The genesis for Oily Doily is Taylor’s interest in a found ex-voto painting, included in the exhibition (the work is from 1954 by an unknown artist). This object, a small piece of rusted sheet metal, has a crude painting of a child in bed on the left half and a Virgin icon with angels on the right. An ex-voto is traditionally made as an offering to a saint in exchange for protection after a life-threatening or tragic event occurs.
In the warm, carpeted confines of BBQLA, contemporary artwork is granted a safe space, emanating from the rusted incantation. The works are free to revel in their own metaphysical tendencies, tendencies increasingly smothered by academic discourse in the art world. By positioning the self-guarded paintings around the ex-voto work, Taylor is providing them a borrowed spiritual shelter from the analytical scrutiny of a secular world.
Oily Doily runs from July 23, 2016–August 20, 2016 at BBQLA (2315 Jesse Street, Los Angeles, CA 90023).